So this is place is obviously not in the Saratoga Springs area, but it is north east-ish of Austin, and it does have good food, so I’m writing about it anyway.

Picasso’s Café

http://www.picassosonpaseo.com/Picassosonpaseo.com/Welcome.html

The day that I stopped here was during a street festival in the area, so the menu was pared down significantly from the regular version, but the dishes on the festival menu are the same as on the regular one, so my impressions should still be applicable.

Appetizers:

Quinoa tacos-  Very good, actually.  The menu listed them as being served with avocado puree and “lto,” which I read as the word “ito.”  Which is a word in Japanese, but does not, as far as I know, refer to a foodstuff.  The waitress, when asked about it, launched into an explanation of quinoa, but when I explained that I was actually concerned about this mysterious “ito,” she said, “oh, that lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.”  Actually, from examining the plate, the “o” more likely stood for “olives,” but no matter.  A big plus for the use of corn tortillas here.

Tapenade, hummus, spinach/artichoke dip trio-  A fairly standard set of dips, served with pita points, but well done.  The tapenade in particular was loaded up with salt and herbs to make the taste more intense.

Salad:

Arugula, beet, fried chevre w/pine nuts-   Apparently the pendulum is swinging back towards the composed salad, since is the second one I was served in as many days.  Actually, this salad was presented more as two independent salads with condiments rather than a composed or deconstructed one, with both the arugula salad and the beet salad dressed and ready to be eaten, a condiment cup of pine nuts and a deep fried slice of goat cheese.   The arugula salad part was nothing special, but the beets were treated a bit differently than I’m used to seeing:  they were baby beets, boiled, peeled, chilled, quartered, and then dressed with honey and sea salt.  Very nice actually.

Entrée:

Greek Pizza- This was a delicious, soft, pillowy bread topped with artichoke hearts, olives and alfredo sauce, and completely not a pizza.  Quite the yummy though.

Service/Ambience:

OK, so this is one of the things that makes me adore both Oklahoma in general as well as Austin:  the people are some sort of combination of tolerant, polite, or practical such that even if you are not their target/ideal person, they treat you well enough to make you feel welcome.  I am about as far from edgy/trendy/hip/cool as you can be, and Picasso’s has a definite attitude/image to project that is completely not me.   Without exception, the front of house staff were tatted front-to-back, aggressively genderqueer, paeleogoth, or the like.  While waiting in line to wash my hands (this place is so alt that they don’t have a men’s room, just a woman’s and a unisex) I saw that the dishwasher station was plastered with band bumperstickers.  But even with all this we-are-consciously-rejecting-the-30-something-white-guy demographic, the body-art fetish model who took my order, brought my food, and chatted with me a bit about the menu and business during the festival treated me with courtesy and friendliness.  Was it just because she knows my money is as green as everyone else’s?  I don’t care.  She did her job well, and so did the kitchen.

Picasso Cafe on Urbanspoon

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